Planners back two more years at UKOG’s Broadford Bridge site

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Drilling phase at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex. Photo: DrillOrDrop

An oil company should be given another two years to decide whether its site in West Sussex is viable, planners recommended today.

Planning permission for the Broadford Bridge site near Billingshurst expires at the end of this month.

The operator, UKOG is seeking an extension until March 2022 to allow it to examine data from other sites in the Weald to assess whether Broadford Bridge will produce oil commercially.

A report by county council planners, published today, recommended the extension be approved, with 15 conditions. It said the impact on people and the environment would be “minimal”.

A decision by West Sussex councillors is due next week (24 March 2020).

The planners’ report concluded:

“Overall, the extensions of time to enable an overarching evaluation of the results of hydrocarbon exploration are considered to have minimal impacts on people or the environment, and would help to meet an identified need for hydrocarbon exploration and appraisal.”

The planners said the applications met local and national planning policy. They said:

“It is recommended, therefore, that planning permission be granted for both applications subject to the conditions.”

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Campaigners outside UKOG’s Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex. Photo: Weald Oil Watch 14 June 2017

This is the third application for more time at Broadford Bridge.

In its application, UKOG said it would assess the prospects for Broadford Bridge using data from tests at Horse Hill and wells, yet to be approved or drilled, at Dunsfold.

If data confirmed the Broadford Bridge site were viable, UKOG said it would submit a new planning application for production. If it were not viable, the Broadford Bridge well would be plugged and abandoned and the site restored to farming, the company said.

Horsham Borough Council did not object to the application but both West Chiltington and Pulborough parish councils did. There were 413 public objections and 125 representations in support.

The planners said the impact of the proposals on residents was not considered unacceptable.

They accepted that Broadford Bridge was an industrial site in a rural setting, but said it was well-screened and so the impact on landscape and visual amenity was acceptable.

The number of vehicles visiting the site were not enough to raise concerns about highway capacity or road safety, the planners said.

“The retention of the site would not involve any activity, has limited visibility and would be temporary in nature.”

“The impacts of the development would be controlled through the planning regime as well as through the environmental permitting and health and safety regimes to ensure that water quality would not be compromised.”

  • Next week’s meeting is also due to consider plans by Angus Energy for well testing at Balcombe. Planners have recommended refusal on that application. More details here

16 replies »

  1. Would it surprise you that water supplies were low in February in that area, so the locals will be hard pressed to support any unnecessary business that can risk that most essential of need. They are also waking up to climate change as reality, keep it in the ground

  2. But, it is not being kept in the ground, Paula C. It is being extracted elsewhere and shipped to the UK.

    I think you will find that after the current virus has been sorted, such supply chains will have a lot more scrutiny. It is already underway.

    If that area had water supply issues in February, which was a record month for rainfall, than perhaps they need to invest some money in water supply? UKOG seem to have a nice supply of water at HH. I’m sure a deal could be done. Some UK taxation from UK business would be of assistance, as well. Necessary business.

    The only “water supply” issue I experienced in February was due to a neighbour not maintaining his part of the ditch, raising the local water table. But, he could spend time helping organise the local XR to protest about climate change! There is much more fantasy than reality around climate change, which is a shame, because it is really starting to do harm and to turn people off who might otherwise be willing to make an effort.

    All good for the “nature reserve” that Ruth reported at Broadford Bridge during a past visit, with butterflies and buzzards flying around the site.

    • “There is much more fantasy than reality around climate change, which is a shame, because it is really starting to do harm and to turn people off who might otherwise be willing to make an effort.”

      What an extraordinary statement! I would respectfully suggest on the contrary that there is much more reality than there is fantasy in informed discussion on climate change. Even to suggest the opposite, as Martin does, is to cast doubt in our minds on the truthfulness of the belief of relevant scientists, overwhelmingly certain that anthropogenic climate change is a fact and is huge. I, again respectfully, would suggest that there is a moral obligation upon us all not to ‘sugar the pill’ with the laudable intention of not “ turning off” those who may be disposed to accept the truth whilst, like the rest of us, finding the truth difficult to cope with emotionally. This concern not to turn us off renders us climate change deniers, those who accept the argument as much as those who unwittingly propose it. We deny the peril by seeking to render it palatable. We are gradually turning what is truth into something subjective. We must hold on to objective reality. If anthropogenic climate change is a fact, a truth, then it’s huge: unless we accept this, there is no chance we can beat it. This does not of course mean, as Martin rightly suggests, that we should accept all statements uncritically, but it does mean that we should inform ourselves as best we can.

      Martin argues by implication that as oil is extracted elsewhere and shipped to us, we are somehow justified in adding to the sum of fossil fuel pollution by extracting our own. Our own will not turn the taps off elsewhere, Martin, and the ships will continue to ply, if not to us then elsewhere, as long as there is an insatiable demand for fossil fuels to supply the industry dependent upon it. This dependence is argued and reinforced by the oil companies, seconded by massive subsidy from those governments they have succeeded in persuading that (very) short term financial gain lies in this support rather than in a huge switch to renewables. The movement away from investment in fossil fuels is gaining ground by the day, assets left stranded, as the truth of anthropogenic climate change is accepted. I doubt that these arguments will persuade you, Martin, and I do not doubt that you hold your belief in good faith, but as I see it, you are unwittingly perpetuating an untruth.

      • Thanks for proving my point, iaith.

        There is NO indication that if UK produced more on shore oil that consumption of oil would increase in UK. I am sure it would continue to decrease, but if the UK oil continued it would become a larger proportion. Just take a look at world oil markets. If there is over production, price falls, and output IS cut back-once they have finished arguing. That is because the oil market is a CARTEL. That is the reality, and short term divergence from that soon fades.

        Would the UK oil no longer imported go somewhere else? Yes-EVENTUALLY. If you want that to stop then you need to stop world population growth and other parts of the world living longer and better. Unless you do that, and no sign that will happen, then the oil companies will be required.

        If the UK produced more galvanised latches it would not mean more latches would be produced in the world. It would mean less are produced in China and sent to UK.

        You do yourself no favours. You deny the REALITY and then make the excuse that if others deny your fantasy they are climate change deniers! Martin made no statement about UK on shore oil adding to any sum. My arithmetic is somewhat better than yours and looks at the overall equation, you seem to only want to focus upon something which just does not add up.

        Not only do you have problems with arithmetic, you have much bigger problems. USA has already made it very clear that it has no future interest in protecting Middle Eastern oil supplies, and that those who need it had better be ready to do so themselves. Your failure to see the whole equation means UK sons and daughters risking their lives, instead of those from USA. Yes, I would like to be able to deny that from being a necessity, or mitigating against it as much as possible, whilst transition to other energy sources happens. The track record for alternative energy sources is shockingly poor, with a few exceptions, so unless something suddenly changes in that respect, transition is going to take a long time.

        But if you want to rely upon the scientists, then there are some who share my view:

        Professor Sir David McKay (the late government chief scientific officer.)

        “There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing (renewables) and we can scale it up and if there is a slight issue of it not adding up, then we can just do energy efficiency. Humanity really does need to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics.”

        Or, you might look at the Inspectors comment, from the Wressle debacle:

        “There is NO suggestion that this proposal would increase the use of hydrocarbons, and the EVIDENCE demonstrates the effect would be simply to transfer production to a more local source.”

        Inconvenient for you, so, you become a denier of that?

        Some of us do look at the whole picture, iaith. Others do something else, and just say “whoops” when it goes pear shaped. Did you follow the recent “cash for ash” review reference N.Ireland?? A whole population ending up penalised.

        • Taking your paragraphs in order, Martin.
          1. You do me too much credit, Martin.
          2. I did not argue what you suggest in your first sentence – just that home produced oil would not diminish production elsewhere or its shipping. Whether the quantity recoverable at home would be sufficient to ease production elsewhere in the long term, neither you nor I know for sure, although in the short term it would certainly increase the sum of fossil fuels produced. Notwithstanding your point concerning the oil producers’ cartel, sorry “CARTEL”, and your higher arithmetical skills, oil from location A plus oil from location B = oil from the two combined = more oil. This, as you put it, is the (polluting) reality.
          3. You equate stopping population growth with stopping other parts of the world living longer and better. On the contrary, stopping runaway population growth might be a way of enabling other parts of the world to live longer and better. I can’t quite see where you are going with this as I doubt you mean what you say. I think you accept that renewables are going to have to take over where oil is now king. Stopping new domestic production is a way of accepting and accelerating the inevitable demise of the fossil fuel economy.
          4. What works for galvanised latches does not work for the fossil fuel-driven world economy. The producers of galvanised latches are not going to be able to persuade the planet to invent new industries dependent upon their galvanised latches. If they have so far been dependent upon their UK sales for their existence, they might need to find new outlets or diversify what they produce. It’s simplistic arguments like this applied to the world economy which has got us in the position we are in.
          5. Of course you “made no statement about UK on shore oil adding to any sum”! I interpreted your comment to Paula as implying that you thought there was no point in leaving the UK oil in the ground. Did I misunderstand you? If so, I apologise whilst wondering what the point of the comment was. As for the superiority of your arithmetic, I can only congratulate you, again whilst questioning this perception and its relevance.
          6. You seem to be suggesting that the Middle East might deny us oil in the transition period. It seems unlikely to me that they would deny themselves this their main source of revenue, but in any case, as our domestic resources are unlikely to meet our needs during the ten years the planet leaves us to pollute via carbon emissions, there seems little point in extracting them. Such extraction, as I have said heavily supported by subsidy, will only slow down the development of renewables. “The track record for alternative energy sources is shockingly poor” you say. Not an opinion shared by a professorial friend – “I would say that there is actually no issue with them “adding up”. We need to scale up, add storage (not just batteries but green hydrogen), more interconnections to the rest of Europe , demand response, and more flexible time-of-use domestic electricity tariffs. And of course, higher insulation standards in homes and businesses are a key part of this, …” Not all share your opinion then on the viability of renewables, or indeed that of Professor Mackay, he whose assessment (co-authored with Dr. Timothy Stone) of the global warming potential of methane – used by HMG to justify its support of fracking – was deemed by the IPCC in 2013 to have been far too low.
          Your points concerning your appreciation of the whole picture are interesting. Not only do you omit (above) to point out defects in Mackay’s scientific work elsewhere, you neglect to point out that the Inspector at the Wressle Appeal made a legal judgement, not a scientific one, a judgement relying upon a refusal to consider the climate change aspects of the application.
          I’m not denying anything, Martin, just looking a little more closely perhaps. I’ll go with the science, as somebody said, if you don’t mind.
          I’m not going to convince you, Martin, although I’m interested in your arguments, so let’s call it a day.

          • Yes, let’s call it a day.

            You certainly will not convince me until you concentrate upon reality. You put numbers to points, suggesting you are answering me, but then do something else altogether, most of which is fiction! Plus, if information is not to your liking, then the authors are suspect.

            It is the standard, and will satisfy those who repeat the same again and again. Interconnections to Europe a good example. Ermm-then we can tell Europe what energy goes into those interconnectors? Dream on. Building upon that sort of sand is a nonsense, and could add a load of expense if a carbon border tax was subsequently imposed. Then another, “whoops”? Mainland Europe is having enough problems securing energy for itself at the moment so relying upon them to sort that out is desperate stuff.
            Perhaps the interconnector from Scotland to England might work properly one day and subsidies will cease? Paying for electricity production that can not be utilised. But, best to avoid the REALITY that such technology has it’s issues and subsidies.

            However, a bit of a sign that people do see all sides of a situation.

            Noticed the following scrawled on the back of a dirty white van today:

            “No toilet rolls left in this van overnight!”

            So, not everyone sees panic and/or anger as the best solution.

  3. Does extracting your own add to the issue of oil related pollution, or does reducing use do a better job? Does fitting a solar panel to your roof increase global energy use?

    The recent reduction in international travel would point to the latter not the former.

    Meanwhile will the gov support the aviation industry or, as we have declared a climate emergency, will such support be refused on the grounds that it would breach our fossil fuel targets? Interesting times.

  4. They will have to support the aviation industry, hewes62, otherwise the tens of thousands that travel around the world to attend climate change jollies will have nothing to do. Only so many yachts.

  5. hewes62:

    Well, I fit most of that. I know some Greens who are the opposite. But there is a big difference between green and Green. Greens tell others what to do, greens do it better themselves but don’t preach or dictate. It is not unusual. You also find it within the veggie/vegan/omnivore discussion- also with a lot of nonsense and fake news.

  6. Martin Collyer misses the point as usual.
    There is an over supply of oil and gas in the world hence the lack of a surge in prices back to $100 plus despite chronic instability in the Middle East; current market prices reflect this oversupply and onshore UK production is simply not viable at such low prices.
    There is no economic case for onshore oil or gas in the UK especially when the Cuadrilla experience underlines that our geology is complex and therefore potentially risky compared to the globally dominant oil and gas fields.
    Carbon capture is an undeveloped technology so reduction in carbon based energy is an urgent necessity.
    May I suggest, from long experience, it is simply not worth responding to MC’s mischievous comments which simply tie up time and usually end in personal comments rather than logical discussion.
    See the officer rationale for denying permission for well testing at Balcombe.
    Broadford Bridge is an equally valuable part of rural West Sussex and there is no national interest in ruining it with extra traffic, noise, dust, mud and pollution – unless you can persuade objectors that the traffic management plan will actually be enforced in contrast to all other onshore oil and sites I have visited.

    • Very interesting!

      So, Enquest state they are to abandon two north sea oilfields where the break even cost is $38/barrel.

      Both UKOG and Egdon have sites where the break even costs are around HALF of that, and will produce oil-but probably a fraction of the two N.Sea oilfields. Those two on shore sites break even costs are someway below current oil prices, so would be profitable. It seems some low hanging fruit have been missed.

      So, Jon and Iaith can just deny the FACTS, but they are:

      Wressle plus UKOG HH will NOT add to world oil production. They will simply replace PART of oil production being closed down, at a much lower break even cost. Enquest will not be alone.

      Mischievous to provide the REALITY? No, someone has to do it. You can continue to try and avoid reality but the more you do it by quoting obviously FAKE information, the more you will be exposed. Personal comments? Well, those who wish to discuss with me may have such an issue, but I have faith they can control it, or Paul can. Besides, I have a thick skin.

      Jon-you may have been trying to dig Iaith out of a hole, and to be admired for that, but I am afraid you have been overtaken by the reality of oil companies publishing real news. Nothing to do with me being mischievous. I just happen to think there may be some visitors to this site more inclined to look at facts rather than fiction. Looking at facts, some also have the ability to visit an on shore UK oil site that used to produce over 100k boe/day to see whether local countryside has to be ruined, and see that it doesn’t.

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